Lean pickings from the garden this month again:
- Handfuls of purple sprouting broccoli
- Fresh hebs, including coriander, chives & basil for the first time this year!
It’s been a busy month in the nursery and garden. Lobelia, Viola, Livingstone Daisy, Pansy, Snapdragon, Nasturtiums & first round of Marigolds have all been planted out, not to mention all the perennial flowers I’ve been lovingly cherishing.
I’ve no idea what the various plantlets will grown into (not a single Foxglove amongst them seemingly – which were the buggers that started my whimsy for English cottage garden-style perennials in the first place!) – so I’ve probably planted them out all wrong for height, colour & sun/ shade conditions, but hey ho. Aster, Petunia, Cosmos & Stock have all been sown, germinated and potted on ready for planting out next month. It’s been a labour of love raising enough flowers to fill the bo-flo-grove, the tyre wall and the stream-side beds with colour & scent. I’m really excited about this year’s display. I’ve turned into a real sissy, for flip’s sake!
I’ve got half a terrace full of vegetables-to-be: courgettes, marrow, pumpkin, aubergine, peppers, chillies, cucumber, tomatoes (3 different varieties) & runner beans are all growing away nicely. Poor germination for second round of curcubits though (over-watering – mea culpa!) so I’ve put some more in pots and also shoved in some melon & butternut squash seeds. I’ve been too hasty to plant out in previous years so I’m trying to curb my impatience and grow the veg on well, so that big, healthy, nourished specimens go in kicking & screaming.
For an impatient sod like me, March & April stretch me to the limit… waiting for green shoots to show; all that fiddly pricking out and potting on; preparing the soil and the growing medium with care. Please let it be worth it!
I’m mollified a little by watching the wonders in the raised beds where onions, carrots, broad beans, peas, rocket, radish and assorted salad greens are sprouting.
Baking & Making
I found a great new spread to liven up my corn crispbreads (or ‘bits of cardboard’ as Steve calls them). Zucchini Hummus is quick & simple. I made it using the local-style pinky spotted beans, which may or may not be Pinto beans but worked anyway. I would turn up the seasoning next time though, as I found it a tad bland. The really nice thing about this spread is it’s taste in combo with my green tomato chutney.
Nothing! Donna Mazza’a “The Albanian” has been sat by my bed for the whole month. I’ve picked it up twice but only got as far as reading the cover and having a quick flick. I don’t know what my mental block is with this book but I’m ditching it and picking a new one.
We’ve been a man down for most of the month so we haven’t achieved as much as we’d hoped. Steve got man flu at the beginning of the month and was properly poorly (well, you know how deadly man flu can be!) for a couple of weeks. Just as he was recovering from that he missed the bottom step whilst letting Daisy in one morning when he was half-asleep. He bruised his foot quite badly and had to rest it for a couple of days. Then it was his birthday (more of that later…) so we had a day off to celebrate. The following day we had arranged to collect some free stone from around the Bay but whilst moving the freezer up from the basement, Steve managed to slice his wrist open on the sharp metal plate at the back. It was a nasty cut in an awkward position and probably deserved a couple of stitches but we taped it up with steri-strips, bandaged it and made him rest for 2 days and remarkably, it’s knitted together beautifully. We wait to see what mischief he gets up to next month to get off work duties!
Despite all of this, we got a fair amount achieved in March. All 6 beds have their irrigation systems in place now. All the gardens have been dug over, weeded and manured. There’s been plenty of seeds sown in the raised beds and a lot of flowers were planted at the end of the month. This year I have been thorough and patient (she says, through gritted teeth). It’s a mission just to mix up a good planting medium but I haven’t cut corners. I’ve barrowed several loads of soil down from the top piece of land and carefully blended this with shop-bought potting mix, worm compost and rotted animal manure.
This all has to be well broken up and mixed together: removing stones & any bulky or unrotted bits from the compost; carefully crumbling the animal manure to disperse it evenly and breaking up any lumps of dried clay in the soil. The end result has been satisfyingly friable, rich and pretty much neutral pH. It will give all our plants a nourishing foundation, we hope.
The project to tidy & de-clutter the workshop, which was started in February:
… was finally finished in March. Rubbish has been cleared out, useless tut ditched, wood re-stacked, various DIY projects bits sorted into new containers, tools re-hung and floor swept. It’s a job well done and makes ingress and egress of people weilding things (especially bulky contraptions, like wheelbarrows) much easier.
We scored a load of freshly cut palm leaves thanks to a tip-off from our adorable French friend, Cecile. We (but Steve mostly) re-palmed the bare patches on both sides of the fence, so privacy and aethestics are intact again:
We’ve started to make space for the caravan which Steve will be towing from the UK with a friend and his Landrover. So far we’ve re-stacked all the bricks and made a bin store & the worm compost bin is ready to be moved to its new location next to all the other compost bins. All the spare tiles have been neatly stacked on pallets behind the workshop out of harm’s way and eyeshot.
We have been given a load of free stone so the dream of creating a properly paved (& one day, covered) seating area moves a little closer to becoming reality. The trusty van moved into work horse mode (after we finally succumbed and invested in a new tyre) and here’s the back of it loaded up:
The bad news is we need 6 more trips like this is the van…
This month we helped move Nik out. He’s making a new home in a nice spot up the road in town, the place where our Montengrin adventure first began: our friend Mia’s property. And then we re-claimed our home, moving furniture, tidying, cleaning, moving the house from it’s Winter to Spring configuration.
The news on the business-side of things is pretty good. We have bookings, enquiries, deposits in the bank, our first proper group booking (30 botanists!) and plenty of volunteers. The first volunteer to join us as a ‘Team Member’ (see this page for explanation) will be Amy from Dublin and then we have helpers joining us from Japan, Belgium, Germany, America and the UK.
The month started fabulously with a girls night in Tivat. I zoomed over to Katie’s in the Mazda MX-5 we have use of these days thanks to Jim, one of our guests last year (sadly not warm enough to put the top down at that stage, although we have done since!). I drove us to Porto Montenegro’s Yacht Club, where the Boka’s first clothes swap was staged. A bunch of girls (about 20 of us) turned up with clothes no longer wanted and got to “shop for free” for a whole new wardrobe. I came away with bulging bags of clothes! New (to me) skirts, trousers, tops, jumpers and a couple of beautiful and almost brand new dresses. I even got a pair of pink shoes and a new handbag!!
We had all brought nibbles of some description & a bottle, so we twirled about dressing up and down amongst the dips, salads, snacks and cake, sipping our glasses of wine. I drove Katie back to Muo where the 2 of us stayed up drinking & eating oranges (!!) until 4 am.
Early in March I watched Grace’s debut on stage, at the Herceg Novi theatre in Dvorana Park.
You can see she takes after her Daddy, head and shoulders high above anyone else in her class. She recited a sweet poem about how special her Mum was and did it beautifully. Once her 2 minutes of fame were over though, she rather lost interest as the line of other kids all had to say their bit and proceeded to pull up her skirt and adjust her tights. Me, Amy & Matt were crying with laughter whilst Eloise & Miles looked on confused and bemused. I’ve a feeling we’ll be seeing more of the little madam on stage so next time I’ll be putting a Camp Full Monte sticker on her underwear for some free advertising!
After the kids were done, young adults performed traditional Montenegrin dancing in full regalia:
And whilst we’re on the subject of dressing up… Steve’s 52nd birthday was themed: “Skool Dayz”. Something to do with the book “The Trouble with Jennings” published in the year of his birth. There was dressing up, Blue Margheritas, some bopping about, loads of junk food (pizza and candy!) and plenty of laughs:
We’ve had a few meals out: a delicious vegetarian feast at Marie & Jan’s place, where the Russian salad was a delightful pinky mound of chopped beetroot, plums, garlic, egg & onion in mayo; and a yummy Indian feast prepared by Katie – 2 different veggie curries, a dahl and rice.
And we’ve had a lot of fun with Daisy. Most days we walk her on the beach on the way home from a day’s slog at the campsite. She chases sticks, birds, puppies, pine cones and cats, hareing up & down the sand with sheer delight. She’s had her fair share of sunbathing this month too, stretched out inside the glass doors basking in the heat:
It’s been a beautiful month to be in nature. The bright, warm days have been showing off their best colours: that sky blue that is somehow bluer than the sky; the fresh lime green of new shoots & leaves; the shocking purply pinks of wild Honesty and Daisy … and all about the birds swoop & butterflies flit. We spotted Southern Festoons, Peacocks and Camberwell Beauties on the campsite:
And we saw the first orchid of the season: an Early Spider Orchid. Let’s hope there are still orchids for the Botanists to enjoy in May.